Friday, October 8, 2010

Strategery Part I -- Setting the Conditions

While I love tactics, the drive to achieve, battling it out in the arena, I know there is much more to being a leader. Someone on the team has to look over the horizon, anticipate issues, see possible new opportunities, and take the lead in charting the course to the future. That, as our former President once coined, is "Strategery."

Strategery (okay...before you think that I believe that is really a word...I know some of you may know it as strategy) is the sort of longer term, disciplined planning that we cannot discount simply because we are wrapped up in the heat of battle. While strategery is not the exclusive domain of the leader, in fact we need strategic thinkers within our ranks to help push the team to greatness, no leader or team can achieve sustained excellence without it.

We can easily be consumed with short term thinking here in Afghanistan. We certainly have enough to do just executing the work in front of us. To many, life here is a day to day existence. Some just want to come and go. But to be this short-sighted is a recipe for failure. We've got to evolve, incorporate new ideas and lessons learned, and keep improving. We have to build capacity, build for the future. We cannot rest on our past accomplishments nor operate as if we can't get better. We can do all of this...and we must...if we want to achieve our overall purpose here.

So for my team, it's time to roll up our sleeves and envision the future. This strategic, long-range thinking is strategery. I plan to dedicate about 3 days in the weeks ahead to gather with my senior leaders to put together our road-map for the way ahead. As such, I wanted to share some thoughts on this page (and get some of yours) about how to set the conditions for such a planning session.

Before preparing a plan in the military, we conduct what we call -- Mission Analysis. This is a detailed examination of one's current position that enables productive thinking about the future. In simple terms we need to see ourselves, see the enemy, and see the terrain. Some of you may know it as SWOT. Same thing. Strengths and Weaknesses enable us to see ourselves, Opportunities are the terrain around and in front of us, and threats are the enemy. Many of you have been doing mission analysis without knowing it!

Here are the tools we are gathering as part of our Mission Analysis in addition to conducting a detailed SWOT assessment of our organization:

-- Customer surveys. We need to know what we are doing well...and not so well.
-- Workforce surveys. What do our employees say and what is important to them?
-- Internal After Action Reviews. We have been doing our AARs at all levels of the organization since we ended our Fiscal Year -- looking for things we can sustain and, more importantly, improve.
-- Analysis of the strategic plan of our higher headquarters 1 and 2 levels above us. We are looking for specified tasks (what are we TOLD to do) and implied tasks (what SHOULD we do to accomplish our mission...even if not explicitly stated) that must be addressed in our plan.
-- Assessment of our old strategic plan. What should we keep? What have we accomplished?
-- Analysis of our current mission. What is our workload, budget, personnel situation, etc? What do we need to do to be competitive? What opportunities do we see coming down the road? What needs fixing?

So...we are gathering the tools now. This is the "condition setting" phase of strategery. We're not ready yet to start putting our plans together. But we certainly are getting an idea of what we need to do. These ideas will start to coalesce into groups the more we analyze different areas of our team and our mission. These groups will become the ACTIONS and INITIATIVES that will form the nucleus of our plans. But more on them the next time. We're still doing our analysis. If you are not...why not now? Know that if you are not into strategery, your competition most certainly is. That's always enough to motivate me to climb up the ship's mast and look over the horizon. That's what leaders do. And that's Leader Business.

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